NASDA Foundation Executive Director Lisa Benson partnered with Oregon Department of Agriculture Development Manager Amy Gilroy to teach rural leaders in the Pacific Northwest about women entrepreneurs and farmers. Lisa and Amy provided a plenary session for the 2020 Regards to Rural Conference called “What Women Want: Women Farmers and Food Entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest.” The virtual conference was hosted by the Rural Development Initiatives and brought together leaders from chambers of commerce, tourism boards, and rural nonprofit organizations to discuss how to enhance economic development in rural communities.

“It was wonderful having the opportunity to share the farmers’ perspective with rural economic leaders that aren’t involved in agriculture. Many of these leaders are serving women entrepreneurs but they don’t necessarily think about women farmers in that group,” said Dr. Lisa Benson, NASDA Foundation Executive Director.

Amy and Lisa highlighted the results of the Women in Agriculture survey conducted in partnership with NASDA Foundation, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. They shared about the opportunities and obstacles facing women farmers and food entrepreneurs, and strategies to better support women farmers and entrepreneurs with business development training and resources.

Amy and Lisa were joined by Spring Alaska Olson, Owner of Sakari Botanicals and Sakari Farms, to share her experience farming in Oregon. Spring was a finalist of NASDA Foundation’s 2019 Women’s Farm to Food Business Competition and presented on her business to NASDA members at the 2019 NASDA Winter Policy Conference.